Less than a year before the pandemic, “Million Dollar Listing” star Frederik Eklund moved to Los Angeles with the hopes of running a bi-coastal agency — a lifestyle where he’d constantly travel between New York and Los Angeles.
This season of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” premieres May 6, and it is going to show 43-year-old Eklund under more stress than ever as he brokers New York real estate sales from California during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Being very determined — and a bit of a control freak, as I am with my business — it was very hard to get that phone call from my assistant… where he said ‘All the airports are closing,’” Frederik told The Post. “The city kind of shut down where I just couldn’t travel. It was very frustrating.”
A Bravo press release said that Eklund struggled to maintain relationships with developers who questioned his understanding of the new real estate market in New York City.
NYC luxury sales slowed to a halt in the second quarter of 2020, but today, the Manhattan luxury market is moving almost as fast as it did before the pandemic, though at lower prices; there were 3% fewer sales and a 15.5% less expensive average sales price in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time last year, according to Douglas Elliman.
“There was no market. It was actually like a complete vacuum” at the beginning of the pandemic, the Swedish real estate broker told The Post. “Demand just stopped. The sellers were still there, the listings were still there, [and] we even had new sellers that wanted to sell and come to the market.”
MLDNY fans can expect some drama with “competitors” this season, as the six-foot-five broker’s physical absence in the New York real estate market creates a power vacuum. Brokers Kirsten Jordan, Ryan Serhant, Steve Gold and Tyler Whitman co-star with Eklund on the show. Luis Ortiz is not slated to return, according to this season’s cast lineup.
“There were a lot of competitors — let’s just say that and generalize it a little bit — that [were] trying to steal or take over my business because ‘Frederik left,’ which I did, but not fully, and it wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t get back fully,” he said. “So that is going to get heated and a little dramatic.”
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Frederik didn’t find it easy to break into a new market, where the likes of established luxury brokers like Chris Cortazzo, Jade Mills, Mauricio Umansky, Sally Forster Jones and Aaron Kirman. Fans will see him join the cast of “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles,” premiering June 6, along with established characters like Tracy Tutor, alongside Josh Altman, Josh Flagg, James Harris and David Parnes.
“In L.A., I’m an underdog, and I really had a little bit of a hard time to adjust,” he said. “In New York, I’m the top dog. In L.A., I’m definitely not. And I have to prove myself here and ruffle a lot of feathers here locally.”
But it seems the Eklund Gomes team (his brokerage is co-led by John Gomes) is finding a way to thrive: recent sales in New York City include a $7 million penthouse in Chelsea, a $2.2 million loft in Lincoln Square and several condos on Bleecker Street in Noho from $2-$6 million. He even recently won the privilege of being the exclusive brokerage for the luxury condominium building above the Museum of Modern Art, according to a press release earlier this month.
And in the Los Angeles and Bel Air area, the Eklund Gomes team recently sold a $16.25 million estate in the Pacific Palisades, a $6.7 million mansion in San Juan Capistrano and a $4 million home in Coto de Caza, the brokerage’s website says.
“Being Frederik — the only person I know how to be — I still have to be number one in New York, although I don’t live there anymore, and I can’t get there. So you’re about to see some real creative solutions,” he said.
Despite business challenges, his greatest achievement during lockdown was in his personal life. At the end of March, Eklund was 160 days sober, he shared on Instagram in an emotional post.
“I feel that I finally had a lot of time on my hands to be the best that I could,” he said. “I chose to look at 2020, at the pandemic, as something good for me — as in realizing what’s really worth something — focusing on my family more and how quickly the kids grow up.”
Eklund and his husband Derek Kaplan, 46, have three-year-old twins, Frederik Eklund Jr. and Milla Eklund, and Derek’s 10- or 11-year-old son Kai, who lives with his moms in London.
The brokerage also has a presence in Florida and, now, Texas, where Frederik and his family are moving to open a new branch of the firm. When asked about TV shows, he says he’s just appearing on “Million Dollar Listing New York” and “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” for now.
“I’m currently on two [shows]. I say that with a big smile,” he said. “We are opening in Austin and soon in Houston. We have some really exciting agents we’ve hired, some incredible projects we’re launching in Austin, and for course, we have some really big projects in Dallas coming.”